Forgive me for misspellings and jumbled words. My fingers often go faster than my brain thinks...
I have done 9 cruises since 2008 from the Caribbean to Alaska. I usually sail NCL but I have tried a few others. I usually travel with my significant other, Susan. I'm 62 and she is 58. The idea of a cabin for one was intriguing to us (she says I snore) and it was on a new ship, the Breakaway, out of NYC. What could be better than that. We sailed on the Bermuda trip from May 18 to May 25 2014. The studio cabins are supposed to be priced just a bit less than 200% of a standard cabin. This can be pricey, but still somewhat of a savings. But Susan did her homework and watched this cruise for weeks and when we booked just 10 days prior, the two studio cabins combined was less than the price of the two of us sharing an inside cabin. Susan tried to call NCL at 6:30 am but they don't open until 8 am. Not wanting to lose the cabins, she called Vacations to go and booked the reservations before 7 am. She was also able to call me and ask if it was okay, and then called VTG back and made minor adjustments. We always buy travel insurance but NCL is too expensive. We go to Insuremytrip,com and get reasonably priced insurance from them.
DAY 1 Both Sue and I live in Queens NY. We had a friend drive us to the pier. A little known fact about the pier...the vehicle entrance is on 55th Street and 12th Ave where you can drive up and drop your bags. But if you are walking (or take the subway to 50th Street (E train), the pedestrian entrance is on 48th Street and 12th Ave. This is also where you get picked up if you don't have NCL arranged travel. We arrived about 1 pm after being stuck in Manhattan traffic...yes even on a Sunday. Streets were closed because of a street fair. There are two lines at check in. We dropped our bags with the stevedores and then made our way inside. There is a security line --similar to office buildings but not as rigid as the airport. Clear your pockets and you are pretty much good to go. The registration lines are inside. They can be long. We found out later that the Breakaway is so big that they treat it as two ships. You are checked in based on the deck of your stateroom..we were near the front of the pier, others went towards the back. We used Latitudes member check in and were one within 10 minutes. WE headed for the ship and passed up the 'photo opportunity' that always greets you when you arrive. Since we were sure oyr bags had not yet arrived nor sure if the room was ready, we decided to do some exploring and then have lunch. At first we were overwhelmed with the size of the Breakaway. All those people!! The elevators were jammed and there were lines all over. But after you were no longer 'lost' the lines disappeared and you never knew you were on a really really big ship. We stopped by the Savor for lunch--one of the two 'smaller' dining rooms on Deck 6. It was noisy and we felt rushed. this was a comment that was sent to Jovo--the ever present hotel manager who welcomed comments. They needed the dining room for a muster drill two hours later and were trying to get lunch eaters out quickly.
We then continued our tour around the ship and eventually found our studio rooms. Because we booked so late, we could not get adjoining rooms. I was in 11555 and Sue was in 11543. We were maybe 4 doors away from each other. As it happened, her room and mine were mirror images of each other. The room is cozy..about 100 square feet. It has a queen size bed and a few throw pillows and regular pillows. There is a night light/shelf above the bed. There is about a two foot wide aisle and then you have the storage. Two full length closets with plenty of hangers. There were also a few shelves towards the bottom. One of the closets contained the ubiquitous safe. Between the closets was a small desk with a good sized flat screen TV above it. There was also a sink and then another rack of cubby shelves. Plenty of outlets. The other side of the bed features a wall to the corridor...but with a large circular window that is frosted glass with blinds and shutters. I stood outside Sue's room and tapped on the window. She could see shadows but nothing else. Looking in to the cabin, you see nothing. It gave some light at night if you didn't want a totally dark cabin. But I bring a small night light anyway. The toilet is in its own closet. there is also a stand alone tube shower that is frosted. There is no bar soap. The soap provided is liquid in a dispenser in the shower stall and the sink. There is a door to a connecting room between the shower and the toilet closet. It was locked. Lastly, the Breakaway has an energy saving gadget. You have to put your room key in the slot to get electric in the room. Its also good for people who forget where they left the card. I was trying to charge my camera battery when i was out of the room. No good. No electric. Could only do at night. The room does not have a refrigerator or a clock. Otherwise, we loved the room. Best thing in cruising yet--5 stars for it. To get into the Studio suite, you need a key card from the main corridor. There are 50 studios divided between decks 10 and 11. As a studio guest, you also have access to the studio lounge...a 2 story sitting space with chairs and tables and board games. There is a bar that is occasionally manned (we don't drink so we didn't care) There is also coffee and tea and orange juice available all day along with cookies or pound cake. There is also fruit. There is a wine vending machine (they are all over the ship) and a regular vending machine with bottled water and Gatorade. I wish they had juice or soda. I;'m too old for Gatorade. Jovan, a member of the cruise staff holds solo parties in the lounge and meet and mingles for all solo travelers, not just studio guests. When you stop by the lounge, there is usually someone there. Ages went from 20's to travelers probably in their 70's or more. Very eclectic mix.
OK, enough about the physical plant.
ENTERTAINMENT. They have a bunch of shows. The 80's rock play Rock of Ages. It is not for kids. There is skin and double meanings and mock xxxx. Some adults walked out as well. I actually stayed awake and enjoyed the show. The theater seats 800 and reservations are necessary. It is free. More about that later. The Burn the Stage is a dance production number featuring ball room dancing. Music was great but did not hold my attention. Sue liked it. Reservations needed, free. Second City has multiple shows at multiple times in a comedy club built just for them. Even though there are multiple shows, you can only book one. We went to it maybe 4 times. Thee of those times we got in on teh standby line. They have a Wine, the musical. Don't know much about it. They also have a comedian/magician which changes regularly. again, reservations. Lastly is the Cirque du sole Jungle show. Cost is $40 and includes dinner. Only runs 45 minutes, set menu and the perform as you eat. Worth maybe $25 but not the $40. We saw it but would not go back again. Reservations for all shows can be made at box office outside of Theater on Deck 7. We had muster in the theater so we got our tix as soon as muster drill was over. Also the clerks took time to explain everything. You can also reserve on line in advance or reserve fro the TV in your room.
Sue and I love Trivia. We go on cruises just to play trivia. LOL. Trivia was usually played in the Atrium and questions are shown on the big screen. No problem not being able to understand the reader. They also had some name that tunes trivia in one of the lounges...very hard and not enjoyable. they also had lots of trivia when we were in port-for the few people w who stay on the ship. There was no progressive trivia. You collect signatures and get NCL tzachkas at the end of the trip based on number of signature. There is a library with a poor book collection. There is a game room. Lots of wine tastings,, towel folding demos etc throughout the day.
FOOD--- I like the Garden Cafe on Deck 15. Typical buffet and not as crowded as one would think. Fruit flavored water, lemonade, ice tea and hot coffee/tea available all meals. There is a wine vending machine. Soda and alcohol available from bar tenders. Never had a problem finding a place to sit...much better than the other ships I've been on. Sue likes the main dining rooms so we usually go there for dinner. The Manhattan Room is the biggest on Deck 7 and seats 700. Very nicely laid out, good food and you don't feel crowded. We never had to wait more than 5 minutes for a table. We always sat by ourselves but you can sit with strangers if you choose to. NCL does not have assigned meal times. Manhattan Room also has a dance floor and band. Good atmosphere. the Savor and Taste are smaller dining rooms on Deck 6. Food is similar but more intimate. We liked O'Sheehan;s pub--the 24 hour comfort food restaurant. Regular meals are free. They also have ice cream sundaes, shakes, floats etc for no more than $4. that's cheaper than Mr Softee! We did not go to any specialty restaurants as we don't want to pay the cover charges.
CASINO and SMOKING. The casino is right in the middle of Deck 7 --the main thoroughfare between the Theater and the Manhattan Dining room. You cannot help but to go through it. Very smokey. NYC has strict smoking laws and most NYers are used to a non-smoking environment. A NY themed ship should carry on that tradition. I wrote a letter to their Environmental hotline. they tout the scrubbers to curb emissions to the environment but don't seem to care about passengers inside the ship. they need some type of walled area with negative pressure to control the smoke. Let smokers smoke if they want to but don't inconvenience me. There is a walkway, we found out later, that bypasses the casino on Deck 7. It is well hidden and not marked. Its outside.
BERMUDA!!! Lovely place, our favorite cruise destination. We have been there in summer and it was too hot and muggy. We went in May and weather was perfect. The best way to get around is public transit--buses and ferries. The buses are not open air safari taxis or 15 passenger buses like in the Caribbean. These are full size air conditioned transit buses with uniformed drivers, schedules, etc. They cost is $4.50 each way. You can get day long passes up to three days but unless you use the bus/ferry at least 3 times a day, you actually lose money. Ferries go to Hamilton every hour from cruise dock. They go to St Georges about every two hours. Buses leave every 15 minutes. It takes an hour by bus to Hamilton and about 20 minutes by ferry. Buses are the way to see the country side. The best beach is Horseshoe Bay and buses go there all day long. Don't bother with ships excursions on Horseshoe. Its expensive and you can do the same on your own with public transit. Things to see include caves, aquariums, botanical gardens, Bermuda Undersea Institute, St Georges historic district, beaches, Gibbs Hill lighthouse and Fort Scaur to name a few. The ship offers various excursions. Do your homework to find a private excursion that matches your needs. We did a glass bottom boat trip with a local vendor that was half the price of the same excursion through the ship..same company! This year we discovered the Railway Trail. Bermuda has no safe place to walk--Main roads have no sidewalks or shoulders. The railway trail takes you through neighborhoods and landscapes on a flat trail with no vehicles. i think bicycles are allowed. It is 20 miles long and is accessible at many points by buses. There is also a shopping district by the pier and in Hamilton. Hamilton also offers Harbour Nights on the Wednesday you arrive from 7 to 10 pm. Arts and crafts, food, etc. In season, they have music and Goombay dancers. If you are Geocacher as I am, there are over 200 caches all over the islands. Don't rent scooters unless you always drive on the opposite side of the road and you are experienced motorcycle rider. There have been 5 deaths so far this year by tourists on motor bikes.
HOME We use easy walk off. We handle our own luggage and we were through customs by 8:30 and home by 10 am. You can also have them handle your luggage but its takes longer to disembark.
That's all for now. Can't wait for next Breakaway trip.